Costa Rica is a peaceful country. So peaceful in fact, that it’s one of the few sovereign nations without an army. It’s also one of the most economically stable countries in the world with higher living standards than most of Central America.
Beaches fringe the Pacific and Caribbean coastline, lush green mountains rise up from the tropical forests and howler monkeys can be heard making their way through the trees. This varied landscape means adventurers can wander into the wilderness and beach bums can relax in the surf. Mix in with this the beautiful weather of Costa Rica and you can expect this destination to be a bustling place in peak season. But with so much of the country to explore, step off the beaten track to dig into the culture of this nation.
Branded the “Switzerland of Central America”, Costa Rica once relied on exporting coffee beans, bananas and beef to bring wealth to the economy. Now though, tourism is Costa Rica’s main source of income and is there any wonder with a country as beautiful as this?
Costa Rican food is nutritious, hearty and delicious. Any meal you have here will be resemble Latin American food just with a good, healthy dose of fruit and veg. It’s not generally that spicy either, so if you like Mexican food but don’t like that kick of heat, you’ll probably like the food served up in Costa Rica.
The basis of most meals here is rice and beans, even for breakfast! In a morning, expect rice and black beans mixed with chopped onions and peppers. There’s also some scrambled eggs and cheese in there too, just to give it that breakfast feel. This speciality is called Gallo Pinto and certainly sets up your appetite for the rest of the day! Or if you just fancy a coffee, you’ll find lots of local specialities which make for a perfect start to the day!
For lunch you might find again that you’re eating rice or beans but this time with some salad and grilled pork chop or chicken. This variation, Casado, is a favourite here in Costa Rica so you’ll probably be sampling this dish at least once while you’re here! In the evening, dinner is usually, yes, you guessed it! Rice and beans. It’s not as repetitive as it sounds, honestly. Dishes are infused with lime, coconut milk or salsa to give each meal some variety. Plus there’s also the much-loved seafood dish called Ceviche, which is usually sea-bass cooked with lime and red peppers. Sounds mouth-watering to us!
What is there to do in Costa Rica? Well, what isn’t there to do? That’s the question! Costa Rica’s landscape lends itself very well to most kinds of holiday makers. One day you can be lounging on the beach, listening to the waves rolling in. The next you can be up in the clouds, on top of one of the country’s several volcanoes!
If you fancy taking a walk on the wild side, journey through the tropical forests on a series of suspension bridges, which take you high up into the canopy of the rain forest. For wildlife buffs, this is a great way to see all the flora and fauna Costa Rica has to offer. Keep your eyes peeled for spider monkeys, colourful parrots and the slow paced sloths. For more of a high speed adventure through the forest, get yourself on to the zip wires that whiz through the trees! It’s quicker than walking that’s for sure but at heights of 100metres, it might just take your breath away a little!
Head further up into the clouds and hike up the imposing Arenal Volcano. There hasn’t been any activity from this volcano since 2010 so it’s perfectly safe to visit, there’s no lava or smoke oozing from the crater at the moment! If you don’t fancy the hike, go white water rafting down Toro River or soak in the hot springs where you can see the Arenal volcano with an unobstructed view.
It’s not all just lush rainforest though, surfers can enjoy swells from both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Tamarindo is a great central location for breaks such as Witches Rock and Playa Grande where waves are constant throughout the year. It’s a bit of a tropical paradise here so be careful not to fall in love with this place too quickly! You might just want to stay a bit longer than you intended!
The bustling capital of Costa Rica, San José offers it's vistors the chance to see the cosmopolitan side of the city.